(CNSNews.com) - A group that monitors corporate ethics says the Coca-Cola Co. is "finding out the hard way" that cooperating with the Rev. Jesse Jackson -- and contributing to his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition -- doesn't stop Jackson from complaining or protesting.
Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, is urging the Coca-Cola board of directors to stop giving money -- and stop making policy concessions -- to Jackson.
Jackson has accused Coca-Cola of failing to comply with a "diversity agreement" between the company and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
And at the company's annual meeting this week, Jackson also protested the recent resignation of Coke General Counsel Deval Patrick, the company's highest ranking black executive, claiming that Patrick was "unceremoniously removed."
According to a report in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Jackson -- in an apparent comparison to Jesus Christ -- described Patrick as "another Easter victim" (Patrick resigned on Easter Sunday). Jackson wants the company to apologize to Patrick.
"Coke is one of Jesse Jackson's biggest financial backers, making six-figure gift after six-figure gift," Flaherty said in a press release. "But the company is finding out the hard way that Jackson cannot be bought, only rented.
"Every time Coke kicks in, Jackson ups the ante," Flaherty continued. "The Coke board should end the shakedown once and for all by cutting off financial support for Jackson and his groups."
According to Flaherty, many Coca-Cola consumers, employees and shareholders object to the company's support for Jackson.
"The issue takes on greater urgency now that American troops are fighting in Iraq," Flaherty said. "On April 4, Jackson accused American soldiers of 'murder' and proposed that the United Nations sanction the United States for 'crimes against humanity.'"
As for Jackson's latest complaints about the Coca-Cola Company, Flaherty called Deval Patrick's departure a positive development. "Coke never should have hired such a controversial figure in the first place," he said, calling Patrick an activist with a liberal political agenda.
Coca-Cola hired Patrick after setting a racial discrimination suit in 2001.
The National Legal and Policy Center has been monitoring what it calls Jackson's "shakedown" tactics for years.
In 2001, the NLPC filed a formal IRS complaint against Jesse Jackson's Citizenship Education Fund, alleging that it violated several tax code provisions. The complaint is still pending.
In 2002, Toyota stopped public support for Jackson's organizations in response to an NLPC request.
In 2003, NASCAR ended its support for Jackson, apparently in response to an NLPC-led protest, which generated extensive media attention and mobilized thousands of NASCAR fans.
In late 2003, the New York Stock Exchange denied Jackson use of the Exchange floor for a fundraising event, in response to NLPC pressure.
NLPC, as part of its mission to support ethics in public life, sponsors both corporate and government integrity projects. In 1993, NLPC successfully sued Hillary Rodham Clinton's secret health care task force to open its meetings and records.
See Earlier Stories:
NASCAR Urged to Stop Financial Support of Jesse Jackson (3 April 2003) Jesse Jackson's Wall Street Project Loses Prestigious Venue (23 Oct. 2003) Jesse Jackson Accused of 'Shaking Down' Toyota (15 Aug. 2001) Jesse Jackson Group Hit With IRS Complaint (28 Feb. 2001)
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